The call of the wild

The increased popularity of design has done nothing to raise the standard of its media coverage. Hugh Pearman has come under a barrage of ill thought out requests.

Ring, ring.

“Hello, Siobhan Gusher from the BBC. I wonder if you can help. We’re doing this architecture series…”

“Hang on, Siobhan. Which bit of the BBC?”

“Which bit? Oh – Development. We’re developing a series. Anyway, we’ve got Janet Street-Porter…”

“Let me stop you again, Siobhan. Is that TV or radio?”

“Oh – TV, of course. Ha Ha. It’s about seaside architecture, and the proposal has to be in by the end of today, the trouble is, it’s looking a bit weak. So…”

“You don’t say, Siobhan. I see it’s ten to three in the afternoon. Better get your skates on, eh?”

“That’s just it. As I say, we’ve got Janet Street Porter, but the proposal – well, the second half of the proposal, actually – is horribly sketchy. We need someone who knows about seaside architecture who might be able to write it for us. Do you know anyone?”

“Why, Siobhan, you mean you want someone to write this proposal for you THIS AFTERNOON?”

“That’s it. It’s got to be in by…”

“And it’s now nearly three o’clock?”

“Yes. So – do you know anybody?”

“Are you asking ME, Siobhan?”

“Oh – well, yes. Or anyone, really. We’d pay. We’ve got Janet…”

“Sorry, Siobhan. I’d love to tell you all about seaside architecture, but, guess what, I’m a bit tied up this afternoon, clearing fluff out of my keyboard. And – it’s a funny thing – I can’t seem to think of anyone who might be a seaside expert. Best of luck.”

“Ah. So – I see. But do you know any other journalists who might…”

“Three o’clock, Siobhan. I’d hate you to waste any more of your time. Bye.”

Click. Sigh. Ring, ring.

“Hey, Hugh! Brilliant! Emma Zeppelin here from Arsewipe Productions! Did you have time to read the proposal I sent you?”

“Oh yes, Emma. That would be the proposal for the series that Channel Whoomf has commissioned?”

“That’s right, Hugh. We’re going to line up these celebs to say what buildings they, you know, REALLY like. People like Sting, Ian McKellen,

Martin Amis, Ardal O’Hanlon…”

“I remember, Emma. And do these celebs know anything about it yet?”

“Well, uh, it’s a proposal…”

“And you seem to think the viewers will want to get involved, too?”

“Yeah, we’d invite nominations…”

“And I read here that the last few programmes in the series would be made in double-quick time by these articulate members of the public, the ones who put themselves forward after being enthused by what the celebs have to say?”

“Oh sure, we’re only expecting, say an afternoon’s filming for each. That’s what the budget says.”

“And this proposal says you have the full support of Hugh Pearman of the Sunday Spicemother, who will write numerous supporting articles in what you call – and I quote – a joint TV-newspaper initiative?”

“Yeah. Um…what do you think?”

“I don’t remember ever saying that, Emma. So has this series really been commissioned?”

“Oh sure. We’re signed up. Well – there’s this final meeting on Monday, which is why I wanted to talk to you…”

“It now being half-past three on Friday?”

“Tee hee. So whatcha say, then?”

“Let me get this right – Arsewipe Productions wants me to write free publicity in a national newspaper for this strangely moronic series. You don’t expect me to ask for anything in return. And you expect my editors to go along with this remarkably one-sided arrangement?”

“Well, maybe it needs working on a bit…”

“I don’t think so, Emma. Nice to talk to you. Bye.”

Click. Heavy sigh. Ring Ring.

“Hello? Hugh? Belinda Breathless, BBC. You don’t know me, but Fiona Flush from Radio Arts gave me your number. Look – there’s this bishop in Spain, says Antonio Gaudi should be made a saint. You know, the bloke with the cathedral. It’s on the wire. Could you be on the “Go Away” show at seven this evening to talk about it?”

“Belinda – let me think about it. Right – I’ve thought about it. Um – no. Bye.”

Reader: these stories are true. Except for the names, obviously. Every week brings its crop. I’m told that architecture and design are the hot topics for TV and radio at the moment. Can’t wait for them to become cold topics again, can you? Ciao! >

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